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HMRC urged to extend 31 January tax return deadline 

HMRC must take “urgent action” and extend the deadline to submit self-assessment tax returns from 31 January 2021 by at least a month, accountancy firm Moore has warned. 

According to Moore, this would ensure that the elderly and vulnerable, who have been shielding during the second lockdown, will have enough time to complete all their paperwork for their self-assessment returns without being fined. 

The firm added that many elderly self-assessment taxpayers prefer to collect and drop off necessary paperwork to their accountants rather than scan and email those documents.  

Tim Woodgates, associate at Moore, said that the firm has already received “worried calls” from taxpayers who are concerned about visiting their accountant’s office whilst shielding, and fear they will not be able to get their tax affairs in order before the deadline. 

He added that an extension would provide extra time for taxpayers to obtain hardcopies of the documents they need from their local bank branch, business or office, if they are currently unable to do so due to the lockdown restrictions. 

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It comes as around 820,000 people on average miss the self-assessment filing deadline each year, with HMRC issuing around an average of £82m in fines for those late returns every year.

Woodgates said: “Announcing the extension to the deadline now is essential to avoid causing more anxiety and stress over the coming months to those who are shielding.”

“A blanket extension is the best option as HMRC is snowed under and just won’t have enough time to deal with appeals against penalties without falling behind elsewhere.” 

“Compared to overall tax take, the penalties for late filing are immaterial. The second lockdown has caused extra problems for those taxpayers that are shielding at what has been an extremely hard year for them – I am sure HMRC understands that.”

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